Bell County: Text-to-911 launching Sunday

Photo courtesy: MGN
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BELL COUNTY, Texas (KWTX) Beginning Sunday residents in Bell County will be able to text 911 dispatchers in the event of an emergency.

While the option will be available, Michael Harmon, the Bell County Communications Center Director & EMC, is still encouraging people to call 911 when they can.

Text-to-911 is intended primarily for use in specific emergency scenarios

For an individual who is speech, or hearing, impaired;

For a person who is unable to call 911 due to a medical emergency that renders them unable to speak;

In the event of a crime such as a home invasion where speaking might give away the location of a person hiding, or in an abduction situation; or,

In domestic violence situations where it’s not safe to make a voice call.
When determining whether to make voice call or send a text, callers should keep the following in mind

Text only – no video or special characters. (limited to 160 characters)
Callers should text 911 only when calling is not an option

Texting is not always instantaneous, which means it may take longer to dispatch emergency services in a text-to-911 situation

Providing location information, city name and nature of the emergency in the first text message is imperative, since

Bell County 911 may not receive location information and will not be able to speak with the person sending the text.

Text abbreviations or slang should never be used so that the intent of the message can be as clear as possible.

Those who use the system must have a cell phone that is activated and capable of sending text messages in order to reach 911 via text.

How to text 911 in an emergency

Enter the numbers “911” in the “To” field;

The first text message to 911 should be brief and contain the location of the emergency and the type of help needed;

Push the “Send” button.

Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 call taker.

Text in simple words – do not use abbreviations.

Keep text messages brief and concise.

We encourage anyone who has any further questions to please contact our agency at 254-933-5500. We would be happy to provide further education on these services.